Clinical features of sickle cell anaemia in northern nigerian children

West Afr J Med. 2012 Apr-Jun;31(2):81-5.


Background: Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a more common and severe disease in Africa. Nigeria the most populous black nation in Africa has the largest number of sickle cell anaemia (SCA) patients in the world. Borno and Yobe State has the largest number of sickle cell trait in Nigeria with prevalence of 27.9% and 32.6% respectively. Sickle cell anaemia survival to adulthood in Africa was reported to be 10-15% in the first decade of life, with the death rate of about 5% during subsequent decades. Large portion that died have shown no overt chronic organ failure but died during acute episodes of pain, infections, acute chest syndrome, stroke and anaemic crises.

Objective: To review the morbidity pattern among SCA children in the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, North-Eastern Nigeria.

Methods: This was a retrospective study of SCA patients seen from 1994 to 2003. There were 333 case notes retrieved and reviewed with their age, sex, clinical features at diagnosis and other morbidities documented and analysed.

Results: Sickle cell anaemia is commonly diagnosed in infants aged 6-11 months, with hand-foot swelling and jaundice being the commonest symptoms at presentation. Anaemic and vaso-occlusive crises were seen more common in children aged 1-5 years. The over-all morbidity pattern is same in both sexes with diseases such as bronchopneumonia, malaria, osteomyelitis, urinary tract infections, septicaemia and septic arthritis being common. Age has been found to influence morbidity pattern in our studied patients.

Conclusion: There is need for early diagnosis and counseling, so that mothers or caregivers will be able to assist in prompt identification of these morbidities and to seek for prompt and appropriate treatment in the health facilities.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Distribution
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell* / complications
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell* / diagnosis
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell* / mortality
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell* / physiopathology
  • Cause of Death
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Coinfection* / complications
  • Coinfection* / epidemiology
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Female
  • Hemoglobins / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Malaria* / complications
  • Malaria* / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Nigeria / epidemiology
  • Patient Acuity
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Distribution
  • Symptom Assessment / statistics & numerical data


  • Hemoglobins